Dupont Circle could be getting a plaza over the busy Connecticut Avenue, which currently slices the area in half and makes it unfriendly to people walking. Last week at a community meeting, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) presented initial concepts for a “deck-over” project that would stretch from Dupont Circle to California Street NW. So far, feedback is generally positive.
The retained cut in the middle of Connecticut Avenue was built along with the underpass in the 1940s. The grade from the tunnel was too steep for a simple intersection at Q street, necessitating the cut up to where the underpass rejoins the roadway at R Street. GGWash has supported a deck-over project back when it was proposed in 2010, and again when funding materialized in 2014.
The original vision was to completely cover the cut, but a feasibility study determined that decking over the entire roadway would require expensive modifications for ventilation. The cost-effective solution is to keep a 45-foot opening somewhere between Dupont Circle and Q Street. While this means the park will not be as big, it provides an opportunity to be innovative.
The project team provided three options for the plaza — an “oasis”, a “promenade,” and a “piazza,” each with varying types of potential landscaping and space for activities and events.
The oasis would retain the current service lanes, including a turnaround at the south end of the Circle, and would add new crosswalks. That means people can’t access the plaza from Dupont Circle because there is no way to cross the 45-foot retained cut without crossing a service lane to the existing sidewalk.